Through July 21
THE HORSE AND HIS BOY Festival Theatre/Shaw Festival
This year, the Shaw Festival found its inner Narnia, with “The Horse and His Boy.”
Last year’s “The Magician’s Nephew” pleased parents in the audience while the kids looked a little bored.
The day I saw “Horse,” there were hundreds of kids in the audience and they really liked it.
This is the kind of show so many kids love, young people and animals saving the world from the evil adults, here with the man who raised Shasta (Matt Nethersole) planning to sell him into slavery and Aravis (Madelyn Kriese) refusing to marry the evil grand vizier.
The runaways head toward Narnia, with a stop in Tashbran where they discover the evil Prince Rabadash (George Krissa) plans to take over adjacent Archenland in the march to seize Narnia.
The four make it to Archenland and save the day, until the army of Narnia arrives to drive off Rabadash and save the world and turn the prince into a donkey.
Shasta learns of the presence of Aslan the lion (Jenny L. Wright) who has been orchestrating the action.
Actually, Aslan isn’t really all that lion-like and there were young complaints about that.
Okay, this isn’t an unexpected story in Anna Chatterton’s adaptation from Lewis’ novel, with its flashes of secret twins and people hiding to learn secrets and saving the good people and punishing the bad.
Obviously, this all reflects Lewis’ own history in World War and war begun by evil princes (emperors) and the grand vizier behind the Ottoman throne.
That’s not all that necessary for kids to know or understand.
It’s all a good rousing story, using Christine Brubaker’s direction, Jennifer Goodman’s design and Siobhán Sleath’s lighting, as well as Cameron Davis’ projection, the increasingly essential techy phase of theater.
The nature of the story being what it is, to me the best performance is Turvey’s Bree.
Maybe he’s been checking out the horses pulling carriages around Niagara-on-the-Lake for technical advice.
It’s all good fun and if you want the introduce a young person to theater, “The Horse and his Boy” is a good start.
Maybe, then they will read the entire Narnia series (if they haven’t already.)
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